So you got a new longarm quilting machine? Congratulations!
Whether you’ve invested in a great Juki Machine with a Grace frame or you’ve decided on another model or brand to do your quilting, exciting days of creativity are on the horizon!
Once you’ve got your machine unpacked, set up on the frame, threaded, and ready to go: then what?
Before you jump headfirst into your first longarm project, read over these tips to build your skills and make quilting on a longarm fun then be sure to keep them in mind as you quilt.
You’ll be amazed at what you can do once you get the hang of your new quilting machine!
Practice, Practice, And Then Practice Some More
Quilting with a longarm machine is a technique that is going to take time to learn, so build up your skills by practicing at least 15 minutes every day with short yet frequent sessions that will get you more quickly accustomed to the machine.
You can get even more practice by enrolling in a local longarm quilting class where you’ll get helpful experienced instruction.
Make a practice quilt sandwich and start out by just getting the feel of the machine by doing some free motion stitching, then move on to other practice exercises.
When you’re ready to try a real quilt, put your practice pieces away to look at later and see then how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned about quilting with a longarm.
Use The Same Color Threads
It’s a good practice to always use the same color top and bobbin threads in your longarm machine that will blend together and make slight stitch imperfections caused by tension errors harder to see.
Develop Freemotion Skills by Doodling
As simple as it really is, one of the challenges of free motion quilting is learning how to smoothly move the needle to create curves and swirls and shapes to look good.
A simple way to practice making free motion patterns is to doodle them with pencil on paper by starting to make swirls and scrolls while trying to create a balanced and attractive design.
As you get better at this with the pencil, next start practicing with your quilting machine.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Machine
Longarm quilting machines on frames can look very intimidating, so it’s totally natural to start off with a little apprehension.
Yet there’s really no reason to be afraid of the longarm; once you learn how it works and get down to actually trying it, you’ll quickly learn that the machine itself is easy to use.
The rest is just a matter of learning how to prepare the quilt and mount it on the rails, then guide the longarm quilting machine to stitch the design you want to make - that's it!
Don’t Rush Yourself
The second part of the adage of practice, practice, practice is to avoid rushing yourself to take on a big project before you and your skills are ready.
Get comfortable with the machine and be sure to start out with a smaller project so you can build new skills as you go.
Be aware that when you start out working with a longarm, it does involve a learning process just like when you sat down at a standard sewing machine for the first time.
Don’t rush your progress, just keep working at your new Juki TL2000Qi/Grace frame setup and you’ll make progress without even realizing it!
It's All About Practice and Patience
The point to remember in all of this is that quilting should be fun, even when you’re learning to use that new longarm quilting machine.
Enjoy the learning process and don’t stress over the mistakes you will undoubtedly make, as each one brings you closer to quilting perfection.
Before you know it, you’ll be making incredible full-sized quilts with your Grace/Juki combo and wonder however you managed before you got a longarm quilting machine!